So, by now you have all heard the news: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB) has purchased long time Long Island favorite, Blue Point Brewing Company. As expected, the initial public reaction was less than positive with the word “sellout” being thrown around more than a few times. Former loyal customers are already proclaiming that they will never drink another Blue Point Beer again, while others are bracing for Bud Light to be on tap at the brewery. To be fair, there have been a few congratulations offered, though from what we have seen they are few and far between. But why all the outrage only a mere few hours after the announcement?
There is much speculation that the recipes will change and the Blue Point beer that AB produces will not be on par with what we have come to expect from the brewery.There is also talk of AB moving Blue Point to another state, similar to what happened when they acquired Rolling Rock. This would rob Long Island of their oldest and (arguably) most beloved craft brewery while taking jobs away from the local population. However, none of this has happened yet.
The tasting room has not been open since the announcement was made, but Blue Point has already posted an announcement on their website assuring customers that when they do open on Thursday (we’ll be there) business will proceed as usual. Obviously there is no way for supporters of the brewery to know how this will all pan out, but the overwhelming negative reactions shows that people are expecting the worst.
In the world of craft beer, Bud, Miller and Coors have become the universal enemy. They churn out mass quantities of product that is all about marketing and much of the experimentation and creativity that is involved in the “craft” of brewing alludes them. But enemy or not, there is no denying that they all know how to run a successful business. And as idealistic as any person who is lucky enough to make a living doing something they are passionate about may be, at the end of the day the goal of running a business is to make money. Brewing beer entirely for the love of the craft already exists and it’s called home brewing. It’s a great hobby and many people are content to keep it as just that, never quitting their day jobs. But when your hobby becomes a profession and you have a family to support, employees that depend on you and the desire to keep expanding and introducing your product to new audiences, well, money talks.
We read many comments proclaiming that Blue Point Toasted Lager is bound to become the “new Bud Light”. If this is implying that the recipe will change and the beer will no longer be the one that introduced most of us to the brewery, well, then this is certainly a tragedy. But, it seems the concern is with the beer becoming as accessible as Bud, Miller and Coors, which may not be the worst thing in the world. Blue Point has been responsible for getting many Long Islanders into craft beer and has always been very active and supportive towards the local community. Personally, we would rather see someone at a random bar in the midwest order a Blue Point Toasted Lager over a Bud Light.
Though AB is a giant corporation and money spent on Blue Point beers will now go to them, can you honestly say you are totally supportive of where every dollar you spend goes? Most craft breweries have private investors, do you read up on them before buying a pint? If you don’t want to buy a Bud Light next time you go to the bar, that’s fine, but why stop buying a beer you love just because the owners saw an opportunity to expand and took it? Frankly, no one knows exactly how this will all shake out. Maybe the brewery in Patchogue will turn into a light beer museum with only watered down crap on tap, or perhaps nothing will change and the friendly faces you are used to seeing will still be there despite the change in ownership. All anyone knows right now is that Pete & Mark, two guys who paved the way for countless other craft breweries on Long Island, have been given an opportunity to take their brand to the next level.
Yes, it sucks when you hear the new, major label produced track from your favorite band on the radio. But at the end of the day they are just trying to make a living doing what they love, like most craft brewers are. And let’s be honest, if you put your all into building a small local business for fifteen plus years and were offered a huge influx of capital, wouldn’t you at least entertain the idea?